I return, head bowed a little, with the realization that I have little to add to the discussion, except to reaffirm some of what has been said, and written, previously.
@Adam_Murdough, your assessment of the issue in question, and the characterization of Grodd, in this episode of the Time Bubble is spot on. This is not the Grodd we have seen before (or, at least, not the Grodd seen in stories from Cary Bates, William Messner-Loebs, and Mark Waid, going back to issue 294 of the Barry Allen series). Johns definitely amps up the animalistic side of Grodd, to the point where it is plainly the focus and almost completely overwhelms the super-simian's personality. Grodd's psychic powers--his "force-of-mind" powers--are almost an afterthought and could almost be missed by new readers to this title.
Unlike previous encounters, there is no indication that Grodd is even a thinking animal, let alone an ape from a civilization as advanced as those of Gorilla City. Grodd has always been intimidating, due to his size and viciousness coupled with his mind powers. This is what has made him stand out as a villain. Grodd has always utilized his super-intellect and force-of-mind powers to get the upper hand on the Flash and Solovar and anyone else in his way by not just pummelling their minds with his overwhelming psyche, but by also changing his form to that of a human (to trick the other apes into letting him out of his cell) or by taking control of the pets of Keystone City to form an army living within everyone's homes. He uses his super-intellect to outsmart and overwhelm his adversaries, and, like so many comic villains, is often outdone by his own arrogance and self-importance (thx, thesaurus.com). We get none of that in #178 from Geoff Johns.
I hoped that maybe it could be explained away by the drugs used to subdue the super-simian. Maybe this was a one-off, a look at the savagery hiding beneath the intellect, revealed by the drugs. But . . . that was not the case. In the "Run Riot" storyline, a little over a year later, Gorilla Grodd's characterization is exactly the same. All that has changed is that he no longer has blood dripping from his lips. It was, I have to say, a disappointment, especially after reading those earlier stories (which all entertained to one degree or another).
And now, I wonder if my positive thoughts about Geoff Johns's run on Flash (of which I only have a scattering of issues leading up to #200, at which point I jumped back on the Flash train) and his handling of the rogues might be wrong--or, more to the point, not what I'm looking for now. Judging by this experience, and @nweathington's thoughts above, I think I need to go read some of the other issues I have of his run and take an assessment as to whether I want to fill those gaps, or just continue filling in my Barry Allen run. We'll see.
All that said, thank you, Adam, for launching back into the world of the Flash. I've dropped in on the nu52 and Rebirth titles, but they haven't done it for me. Thankfully, I have the CW series to get my fix (though with the latest season, #3, I only watched the first half dozen or so episodes, skipped the middle, then watched the final "storyline," so we'll see about that, too), and I have my longboxes. Maybe it's time to rummage around through there for some more Flashy goodness.
@bralinator -- What Eric states above, except that the 8th book has been completed and published.
Perusing the internet, it looks like you can find paper and kindle editions on Amazon. The original Transfuzion publishing site, which reprinted all these 8 volumes, no longer has a store link that works, and it appears Don Lomax's personal site was scooped up by someone else, so it's hard to find any current news. Lomax has been persistent in continuing the story of Scott Neithammer, with one or more of these collections completing stories left unfinished when Apple Comics went bankrupt, while also finding other venues (and utilizing other formats, such as a single-page per chapter format) for his story, including online . I wouldn't put it past him if he were still working on newer stories, but I found nothing to verify that.
Like I said, those first 16 issues really stand out for me. Lomax's black and white art, reminiscent of Stephen Bissette's work, mixed with his stories, informed by his own experiences in the Vietnam war, were terribly affecting. This link has a good example of his artwork and storytelling, from the first issue of the series --- LINK.
I haven't analyzed it too closely, but I've enjoyed the first two episodes of this season. We ended season 2 (or I ended season 2) thinking this new season would encompass the Flashpoint storyline.
[Though we didn't know about the use of Flashpoint then, did we? And it can be argued that the Flashpoint story is still going, be that as it may]
Anyway. An expectation would have been that Barry's mother would finally be a full-time presence, and we'd have Kid Flash along for the ride, and we'd get to experience this new timeline. But they wrapped that all up in the first episode. Nicely done, I say. A little swerve that will take us down another path.
Of course, then there's the issue of Barry and Iris having not kissed ... again. A valid argument; that story's been stretched out a bit much. But, they took care of that with episode two. Again, well played.
So, I have appreciated the fact the creators have been willing to move away from what the expected story was.
As to other points. I can see the issue with too many speedsters, but I don't subscribe to it. I loved Waid's initial run on the character, when it really became about family, and specifically a family of speedsters. So, I don't have a big problem with this (though, could we get a redo on the Rival's costume? That is horrible). Also, for me, my enjoyment of this show is as much about the relationships as it is about the villains and the superspeed (and I'm still digging the color blur for the speed), and I like how they've upended things again, with the latest timeshift from Barry. It's introduced some friction between friends, and gives them a bit of room to move in the relationships.
Could the series benefit from some of the changes proposed in recent posts, here? Hell, yeah. I'd love to see them open things up, have Barry go to other dimensions, and yes, give me a Gorilla City episode (that would/could be so good!). But, at this point, I don't need that. I'm enjoying the series still, quite a bit, and I'm looking forward to Jessie Quick, as a speedster. Bring it on.
So, is anyone calling for the end of the Star Trek franchise? I ask, since, statistically speaking, the percentage of its opening domestic gross as compared to its budget is exactly the same as that of the new Ghostbusters (with all those scary women...)
Another great episode, Geeks! It was great to hear @brydeemer joining in. With his other recent guest appearance, hopefully we can look forward to more Deemer.
Apropos of the return of the prodigal, his chastisement--understated, and stronger for it--of @wildpigcomics for still having not read Cerebus is spot on. Dave Sim's cartooning ability (which must include his facility with lettering) is nearly unmatched. I would urge Chris to get on this, with one proviso...read Love & Rockets first (or concurrently, or--at the very least--after reading Cerebus).
Los Bros Hernandez--Jaime, Gilbert, along with Mario, at times--have crafted some of the most poignant, affecting, brilliant, and beautiful comics over their thirty-plus year careers. I didn't finally read L&R until the first giant omnibus came out, roughly ten years ago, collecting (to that point) Gilbert's Palomar stories. They. Are. Awesome. And, I would argue, the best way to introduce yourself to L&R. More soap operatic, telling the stories of myriad characters in the small, Mexican town of Palomar, Gilbert's early work in this series is more assured than his brother, Jaime's, whose earliest issues suffer a bit from strange anachronisms and a tendency to be wordy with his dialogue.
Which isn't to say the early Locas stories from Jaime are not enjoyable. He quickly finds his footing and launches into one of the most real friendships in all of comics, and, it could be argued, one of the best in all of literature. Hopey and Maggie fall in and out of love, struggle through hardships together, and apart, while continually moving forward, seeking answers about life and what it all means. (and if that sounds like hyperbole, there certainly is a pinch of that included, but, for the most part, I'd argue my description stands up)
The real strength of this series comes from its longevity. Jaime and Gilbert have taken each of their collections of characters and allowed them to grow old, to have families, to lose friends and loved ones, discover new friends, have adventures, feel pain and sorrow, and love and joy, and experience lives that feel genuine, feel real, feel lived in. And their age has not diluted their storytelling abilities on bit. One of the most heartfelt and heartbreaking moments came a few years ago, in Jaime's "Browntown," which was built on the stories that had come before. It was an amazing piece of comic storytelling and comic art, that could not have been done without the accumulation of stories, over the prior decades, that came before. It was an exclamation point, driven into readers' (or, at least, my own) heart(s), and it's one of those handful of comics stories that has stuck with me, since I read it.
But it's not just their storytelling. Jaime & Gilbert are two of the best cartoonists working today, and two of the best ever, in my opinion. Their ability to evoke emotion and replicate body language utilizing an economy of line is beyond impressive. This, to me, is some of the most beautiful artwork I've seen in comics. Really incredible.
Now, I know it can be daunting to start a book that has this much history (see: Cerebus). But Fantagraphics has a page that can help you find where to start reading, here. And the collections they've done for Gilbert & Jaime's work are great--a good size, with a healthy collection of stories, at a good price. Well worth picking up, here. Or on Amazon or at In Stock Trades. Or, if you want, see if your local library can request them for you through their Interlibrary Loan department, which allows libraries to borrow items from other libraries, across the country.
These are, seriously, some of the best comics ever made. Do yourself the favor of seeking them out and reading them. Now, I better get back to work.